Sydney | Evans stops Spanish revival; Kvitova ensures Czech win –… – Tennis Threads

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It was a close thing, but Team GB has won its second and final tie of Group D to finish top of the table and ensure itself a place in Wednesday’s City Finals against the winner of Group C, the other group playing at the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.
Having won the two singles played on Saturday and then watched Spain claw its way back into the tie when Harriet Dart went down to Paula Badosa, the tie hung in the balance leaving Dan Evans with the task of gaining that third point which would put Britain into an unassailable winning lead.
And, with the pressure on, the 32-year-old from Birmingham, delivered by fighting his way past Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-3 1-6 6-3 in Sydney and put Britain 3-1 up with the possibility of a mixed doubles decider becoming unnecessary.
In what proved to be a gruelling encounter, Evans, ranked 27, used his trademark backhand slice to great effect, especially at the crucial moments of the match to keep the Spaniard pinned down on the baseline.
He looked sharp at the net and with the vocal support of both captain Tim Henman and his teammates, he pulled through in the third after failing to capitalise on a break point to drag himself over the finish line after two-hours and 15-minutes of intense play.
“It is great to qualify Great Britain for the City Finals,” Evans said. “It has been amazing to be part of the event up to this point. Watching so much great tennis. Watching the ladies compete so hard, they’ve done so well for our team and got us some big points. Badosa and Dart played an amazing match before me. It is one of the best matches I have watched Harriet play.”
As Evans mentioned, Badosa had earlier, despite being hampered by leg cramps, recovered to beat Dart 6-7(6) 7-6(5) 6-1 to give Spain the chance to pull off a comeback in the tie.
“I don’t know what happened at the second set, I started a little bit to cramp,” Badosa said. “It was high intensity, first match of the year, I was nervous. But I could adapt myself. I started to play a little bit more aggressive. I’m very happy with the fight tonight because I played and fought until the last moment.”
Dart came through a 77-minute gruelling opening set but couldn’t hold the Spaniard back in the second to fall 1-3 behind but then Badosa began to cramp.
Dart took advantage, clawing her way back on serve before Badosa began to recover physically thanks to some pickle juice provided by the trainer, to power her way back to level at a set-all.
With the momentum now firmly on her side, Badosa dominated the final set, with her best tennis of the day, making just three unforced errors to run away with a very hard-earned victory after 3 hours and four minutes of play.
In the final rubber of the tie, Harriet Dart partnered Jonny O’Mara to defeat Jessica Bouzas Maneiro and David Vega Hernandez 3-6 6-2, 10-5 in 73-minutes to give Great Britain an overall 4-1 victory.
Petra Kvitova shakeshands with Laura Siegemund following her win
Earlier in the day, Group C participants were in action and their table remains undecided.
Having won the opening two singles matches of their tie yesterday, the Czech Republic were relying on their No1. female player Petra Kvitova to give them an unassailable 3-0 lead in their tie against Germany and enjoy the rest of the day. And the world No.16 duly obliged!
The two-time Wimbledon champion, however, was made to work hard by Laura Siegemund before she crossed the finish line with a 6-4 6-2 victory to ensure the Czechs had their first overall win in the group stages.
Siegemund held 11 break points in the match, two more than the Czech former world No.2, who despite 10 double faults, was able to keep the German at bay and break her four times.
“I really enjoyed every day (of the United Cup). Long days, for sure… I couldn’t celebrate New Year today,” Kvitovaa said following her win. “It’s tough.
“Otherwise it was fun, especially with the boys. It’s always different. They’re young. They have a different energy. It’s fun to be in a team with Marie Bouzkova as well and Jesika Maleckova. I’ve never been in a team with them. It was really fun.
“I have to say it’s great. I’m very happy with this idea that they came out with. I was always jealous of the (men-only) Laver Cup and the ATP Cup. Finally, we’re in as well,” she added.
The Germans responded by winning the next two dead rubbers and restore some respect to the final scoreline.
Oscar Otte, currently ranked 76, secured his team’s first point when he downed Dalibor Svrcina 7-6(1) 6-2 in the second men’s singles rubber. The Czech, who was playing as a replacement for Tomas Machac who picked up an injury on the second day of the competition, was unable to capitalise on the two early breaks he had in the opening set.
In the last match of the tie, Germany closed the gap to 3-2 after Siegemund and Alexander Zverev paired up to defeat Marie Bouzkova and Jiri Lehecka, 6-4 7-6(1) but now have the task of facing the USA in the final tie which starts on Monday.
A victory for the US will take them to the top of the group where they would face Team GB, winner of Group D!
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